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Obstacles to effective public participation in strategic environmental decision making

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A presentation on obstacles to effective public participation in strategic environmental decision making in the countries of the European Union. By Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the Environmental …

A presentation on obstacles to effective public participation in strategic environmental decision making in the countries of the European Union. By Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the Environmental Pillar. Ireland, October 2012

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  • 1. Obstacles to effective public participation in strategic environmentaldecision-making in the countries of the European Union Michael Ewing Coordinator The Environmental Pillar Ireland
  • 2. The bread has to be good, but thefilling is what makes it a sandwich ! Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 2 Environmental Pillar
  • 3. Menu of Some of the Problems• International legislation is unclear or inconsistent• There is no opportunity for PP• Conflict between participatory and representational democracy• Poor transposition into national law• Narrow interpretation of law• Advertising of PP is restricted so that the response is low• The SEA is a tick-box exercise• The opportunity for PP is being restricted• The PP occurs after the main decisions are made• The PP is window-dressing only• The PP timescales are too short• There is no explanation as to what happens to the public’s submissions Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 3 Environmental Pillar
  • 4. International Law is unclear or inconsistentThe Aarhus Convention Article 7 is particularlyunclear. To the extent appropriate, each Party shall endeavour to provide opportunities for public participation in the preparation of policies relating to the environment.Neither the SEA Protocol nor the SEA Directive iscompliant with the Convention – Definition of Public Concerned – Access to Justice is absent Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 4 Environmental Pillar
  • 5. Legislation is unclear or inconsistentThe SEA Protocol – The tests for inclusion of a decision-making process are too restrictive – Includes environment and health but not sustainability, or cumulative effects – Provides for the PP process to be publicly available – Includes public participation in the screening stages – Includes provisions for assessment of policies and proposed legislation – Provides for the public to be informed of the monitoring processes undertaken – Only relates to the environmental assessment and not the actual plan, programme or policy Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 5 Environmental Pillar
  • 6. Legislation is unclear or inconsistentThe SEA Directive 2001/42/EC – The tests for inclusion of a decision-making process are too restrictive – Does not include policies and legislation – Does not specifically include health – Does not require public participation in the early stages (screening or scoping) – Excludes financial budgets or programmes – Lack of legal remedies where PP is restricted, absent or its results not taken into consideration – Includes a review of both the draft plan or programme and the environmental report Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 6 Environmental Pillar
  • 7. A level playing field?• The EU has ratified both the Aarhus Convention and the SEA Protocol• Aarhus is ratified by all EU Member States• SEA Directive applies to all EU Member States• The SEA Protocol has been ratified by the many of the EU Member States, but there are a significant number that have not• And yet 11 years on the SEA Directive has still to be reframed to reflect the reality of its failure to fully deliver either SEA or public participation as required under Aarhus• Both the Directive and the Protocol are out of line with Aarhus Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 7 Environmental Pillar
  • 8. Examples of BarriersThe examples that follow are far fromunique, but are intended to illustrateissues that are common across the EUregion. The examples are from IrelandPoland and the Czech Republic. Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 8 Environmental Pillar
  • 9. The Consequences Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 9 Environmental Pillar
  • 10. The ConsequencesStrategic decisions are being taken with no SEA.Food Harvest 2020 (Ireland) – The dairy output target to see a 50% increase in milk production by 2020 relative to the average volume of production over the period 2007-2009. – Beef and sheep production - increasing the output value from each of these sectors by 20% by 2020 (set relative to the average of the period 2007-2009). – The pig sector the target is to increase output value by 50% by 2020.The EPA and the Environmental Pillar called for an SEA as this willimpact on at least 7 but the Government were able to hide behind theSEA DirectiveAn Environmental Analysis of FH2020 is now being carried outretrospectively but without the range of an SEA and without the PPprovisions and without legal status Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 10 Environmental Pillar
  • 11. The Zero OptionThe public should have a possibility to provideinput/comments and have due account taken ofthem, at an early stage of decision-making when alloptions are open, on whether the proposed activityshould go ahead at all (the so-called “zero option”).This recommendation has special significance if theproposed activity is a technology not previouslyundertaken in the country and which is of high riskand/or unknown potential environmental impact.Para 13. Draft Recommendations on Public Participation in Decision-making in Environmental Matters 21/10/2012 Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 11 Environmental Pillar
  • 12. The RealityThe Irish Government is to commission a majorindependent academic research on the likelyimpacts of Fracking. The research is to becoordinated by the Irish EPA. Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 12 Environmental Pillar
  • 13. The ConsequencesThere is no public participation on the terms ofreference for this, even though itsrecommendations will form the basis forGovernment policy on the use of thistechnology, which is likely to be proposed inabout 10 of the 26 counties of Ireland as well ashaving transboundary impacts in NorthernIreland. Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 13 Environmental Pillar
  • 14. Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 14 Environmental Pillar
  • 15. Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 15 Environmental Pillar
  • 16. The public authority lacks the will, the skills and/or capacity to provide PPRoad, forestry and regional planners’ work for biodiversityconservation and public participation: a case study in Poland’shotspot regions. Malgorzata Blicharska, Per Angelstam, Hans Antonson,Marine Elbakidze & Robert Axelsson (2011): Road, forestry and regionalplanners work for biodiversity conservation and public participation: a casestudy in Polands hotspot regions, Journal of Environmental PlanningandManagement, 54:10, 1373-1395This study indicates that planners from the three investigatedsectors did not effectively support the implementation ofexisting international policies concerning biodiversity and PP.Creating new national policies will probably not change thesituation. What is needed across the EU is support andeducation for public officials, as well as the public to enableinformed transparent and well designed PP to take place. Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 16 Environmental Pillar
  • 17. Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 17 Environmental Pillar
  • 18. Lack of transparency and ofconsideration of public submissions in the Czech Republic • The public and the public concerned are not defined in the legislation • Early participation is allowed, but submissions are often rejected without proper explanation • The affirmative SEA opinion on the Operational Plan for Transport was issued three days after the close of the PP process!! • In SEA for land use planning, the public can only contribute their opinions when the SEA is already completed. • In the report of the City of Brno land use plan only one paragraph was used to describe the PP process, with no explanation of how the submissions were assessed and included or not in the agreed plan. http://justiceandenvironment.org/_files/file/SEA%20WP07%20Czech%20Cas e%20Study.pdf Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 18 Environmental Pillar
  • 19. Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 19 Environmental Pillar
  • 20. The PP timescales are too shortTimescales are often too short as a result of bad publicadministration. Last minute consultationsTime-lines often do not allow for the access toinformation time scales Timelines in the UK. The key change is that whereas the previous Code contained clear guidance that consultations should normally last for at least 12 weeks (with consideration given to longer timescales where appropriate for example during the summer and Christmas holidays), the new principles state that “The amount of time required…might typically vary between two and twelve weeks” and that “In some cases there will be no requirement for consultation at all.” The new guidance will take effect in early autumn 2012. http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource- library/consultation-principles-guidance Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 20 Environmental Pillar
  • 21. Thank youGo Raibh Maith Agaibh Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the 21 Environmental Pillar